I’ve written often on the blog about the never-ending trials of finding the perfect jeans. I’ve even been known to compare the endless labour of shopping for jeans to the punishment meted out by the gods to poor Sisyphus. You know, the mythological king who so angered the gods he was sentenced to push a rock uphill, only to have it roll back down. Every time. For eternity. Just like jean shopping. Sigh.

Don’t laugh.

I seem to have solved my jeans problem, for now. By buying two pairs last summer. But I’m sure that solution will be temporary when Paige stops making the ones I like. Which, let’s face it, is inevitable. But I’m sanguine about that. Mostly.

What’s really been nagging at me for a while now is the problem of finding the perfect sweatpants and sweatshirt. I’ve worn sweatpants and sweatshirts as leisure-wear for years and years. Long before the current “athleisure” trend. Since way back in the eighties when my friend managed a lovely little store here in Ottawa called “Cotton Ginny.” Cotton Ginny made cotton sweatpants, sweatshirts, tee-shirts, and other causal wear. They made the old fashioned style of sweatshirt and sweatpants. At the time, I had a closet-full of matching sweat tops and bottoms, red, pink, black, grey, you name it.

Perfect for wearing over one’s bodysuit and leggings to dancercise class. Ah, remember dancercise?  My roommate, Debbie, and I signed up for classes. We bought the outfits, of course. We were determined to get fit. But then, we’d be so starving after every class, that we’d throw on our sweat pants and drive directly to MacDonald’s. Every time. Ha. What an exercise in futility that was. Pun intended.

A couple of years later, when I finally became serious about exercising, and started running, my Cotton Ginny outfits came in handy. I also wore them for lounging around the house, doing my lesson plans, marking, reading a book, cooking dinner. Whatever. Then Cotton Ginny disappeared, at least here in Ottawa. And I started shopping at Au Coton for my sweatshirts and sweatpants. Then they disappeared as well. And I couldn’t for the life of me find a store that sold sweatpants or sweatshirts which fit me. Or suited me. The pants were always too short, too baggy, and too sad looking on me. The sweatshirts too huge, with ginormous hoods, too many logos, or way too short in the sleeves and the body. So I made do with the sweatshirts and pants I already had in my closet. For years.

Then with the rise in popularity of yoga, came the Canadian store Lulu Lemon. Which has beautiful things for exercising and for lounging, if a bit too expensive for my taste. Still, I caved and started wearing yoga pants or leggings, instead of sweatpants. Then Gap and other chain stores got in on the yoga thing, and I bought more yoga pants, much cheaper than at Lulu Lemon. But really, in my heart of hearts, I’ve never been a yoga pants person. Or a yoga person, for that matter. I missed my old sweat pants. If only I could find a pair that fit… and suited me.

woman in sweatpants, grey hoodie, sneakers, and green suede jacket

And of course you know where this is going, or I wouldn’t be writing this post. I clicked on an e-mail ad from Aritzia a couple of months ago, and there was an array of sweatpants, and sweatshirts that suited me down to the ground. I ordered on-line and, since Aritzia uses Canada Post to deliver, I had no issues with courier delivery, which, as I’ve written about before on the blog, can be problematic when you live in the country. And no issues with returns since you can take merchandise back to the nearest store, which is preferable to having to ship something back to the vendor.

woman in white tee, white sneakers, and black sweatpants
My new Adidas sweatpants with a Vince tee and my Stan Smith sneakers
So. What did I get? This pair of black Adidas sweatpants, above. Which are long enough in the leg, and slim enough in the thigh to actually fit me. I also bought a lovely grey hoodie. It’s very light-weight, long in the body, with a narrow cut. I took it to England with me and found it really versatile. On cooler days when I wanted to wear my Veronica Beard jacket, I zipped out the partial hoodie that goes with the jacket, and substituted this one. Then wound my grey and red scarf over top, and I was toasty warm, but not overwhelmed by layers.
woman in jeans, blue jacket, sneakers and scarf in front of red phone box in London
Layered up in Covent Garden, London
Back home, I’ll wear the hoodie with my new sweatpants, and my khaki suede jacket from Marks and Spencer that I won last year on Alyson Walsh’s blog.
woman in Adidas sweatpants, sneakers, grey hoodie and khaki suede jacket
This outfit might become my favourite running to the library, or to the grocery store, ensemble, if sweatpants and a hoodie can be said to be an “ensemble.” That is until the weather turns too cool and I have to swap the sneakers for socks and boots. I doubt that I will join the trendsetters in wearing my sweatpants with heels and dressy tops, though.
woman in Adidas sweatpants, sneakers, grey hoodie and khaki suede jacket
I bought one more item in my Aritzia athleisure haul, this lilac cotton sweatshirt. Oh, how long have I wanted to replenish the sweatshirt shelf in my closet with just this style of shirt? Since the demise of Au Coton, I’d switched to fleece tops, and zippered yoga jackets for lounging, and for exercising. But every now and then I’d try to find a classic sweatshirt. Like this one. Long enough to fall just below my hips, with a crew-neck, and the classic wide waist-band and cuffs. It’s great for travelling, if a bit bulky for those carry-on only flights. I wore this on a couple of cool mornings in New Brunswick in September, over a tee-shirt, with my ankle jeans and sandals. In England I found it lovely and cosy to change into for a couple of hours of lounging in my hotel room after a day of sight-seeing.
woman in sneakers, black sweatpants and lilac sweatshirt
But, really, I didn’t buy these sweat pants and shirts for wearing anywhere but at home. For walking on the trail. Or lounging around the house. Working on my blog, reading, cooking dinner. Or more likely, sipping wine while watching Hubby cook dinner. Ha.
woman in sweatpants and sweatshirt sitting with legs folded and a book in her hands
Reading and relaxing while you know who is in the kitchen.
So wearing my new sweatpants and sweatshirts is like going back to the eighties for me. Kind of. Even though I no longer have a wardrobe of matching sweat pants and shirts in my closet. And I don’t throw my sweatpants on over my Danskin bodysuit and leggings anymore. Ha. That Danskin bodysuit was one fashion investment that never paid off. I can’t remember how many weeks of dancercise we lasted. Not many, I think. I know that I got fed up with the instructor who used to wipe her heavily made-up face off on a towel half-way through the class. Ickk. Or the one who wore sparkly headbands, and insisted on the class being more about fancy footwork than actually working up a sweat. I just wanted to move. I guess that’s why running ended up being a better fit for me. More movement. Less pizzazz. And fewer trips to MacDonald’s.
But I am happy to have found sweatpants that fit, at last. And sweatshirts that suit me. It’s kind of like going back to my athleisure roots. Back to the eighties before I started teaching. Before I met Hubby. When I was young and slim… and a bit of an air head. “Would I want to go back to those days again?” you might ask.
Ha. Perfect sweat pants aside… not on your life.

Here are the links to the items I bought on the Aritzia website: Lilac Sanoh sweatshirt, grey Ginsburg hoodie. They don’t have the Adidas track pants on the website anymore, although they have lots of other track pants here.

What about you folks? Any items from your wardrobe’s past that you’ve revisited lately?


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27 thoughts on “Back to the Eighties: My Perfect Sweats.”

  1. Well chosen. Your legs look super long in the last photo. Agree with you 're athleisure trend with highheels. I predict there will be a lot of those trousers with sparkly and other stripes in clearance sales very soon! Love how all your new purchases work so well with your existing wardrobe. Iris

    1. Thanks, Iris. I'm so glad to be able to restock my slouching around the house clothes. One sweatshirt has so many holes, it's time it became my canoe camping shirt.

  2. I remember Cotton Ginny! And Au Coton. And Fairweather (which technically still exists but no longer resembles the "upscale" store it was when I moved to Ottawa in my teens and encountered it for the first time). Would you be able to link to the specific items on the Aritzia website? Or provide the item names (Aritzia items always have interesting names)? Thanks!

    1. Thanks for reminding me, Lia. I remembered that I had not provided any links… after I published and had gone to bed. Then I promptly forgot again. I just linked up with the two sweaters. Aritzia doesn't seem to offer the pants anymore, so I just put the link to the page of other joggers they sell. Check the end of the post for all the links.

  3. I recently bought some black "track pants" with double white stripes on the sides like yours. But I must say that yours fit your long legs better than my new pants fit me. Still, they do feel deliciously roomy. And I wear them like you do — at home or while running errands after exercise class.

    A few months ago I was jonesing 80s-wise for the more structured, bigger-shouldered jackets I've seen on runways the last season or so. As a haunter of second-hand clothing stores, I found three older jackets of that silhouette at a Good Will store. Paid $5 apiece (plus dry-cleaning), and I can't find anything wrong with them! One is a Pendleton in a soft blue/cream plaid wool, the second is an long, slouchy Italian linen jacket, and the third is a thick wool in a subuded black/grey/red plaid. Sometimes revisiting an era is as easy as recycling old clothes. 😉


    1. "Jonesing"… that's a new one for me. What a great expression. Looking at some of the extra large jackets on models this season, I've thought about doing exactly what you're doing. Buying vintage, taking part in the trend, and then giving the item back when the trend has run its course. Good thinking!

  4. When I was young I used to wear more colour . I remember a favourite emerald green shirt dress in fine wool that I loved . With time I've come to wear mainly the smart neutrals of black , navy & grey . I still like navy & grey but recently I've added woolies in deep red , clear blue , purple & , yes , emerald green ( separately not all in one jumper 🙂 It hasn't been a conscious decision , I just seem to be drawn to jewel like colours . I think my skin tone needs extra help now & these colours seem more flattering . I like all your outfits & I'm trying to find a hoodie to wear with a jacket for a more casual look . Some are thin & cheap looking , others too thick & bulky but there'll be one just right somewhere .
    Wendy in York

    1. I love jewel colours, too. But then again..we do have similar colouring. I can't believe how much better I look in a saturated colour like burgundy, than a pale pink. I love emerald too. That hoodie was a real find because it slips so easily under jackets, but has some wool in it so it's warm. I shouldn't actually call it a sweatshirt, since it's not really. Good luck in your search. Maybe Ms. Howell has a lovely hooded sweater available at a discount price.

  5. Ha! Unlike you I'd return to my youth in an instant. I've never understood people that don't want to go back. Those were the BEST times! All I did was travel and experience life. (sigh)

    I remember well Cotton Ginny and still run across that stuff often in the thrift store. I didn't like it then and I don't care for it now.

    I also had a Danskin bodysuit that I used to run in! Ha ha! Yep. In London, near Knightsbridge well before the days of common outdoor running.

    Your post is bringing back some fond memories for me.

    I love your new casual outfit. It fits you very well and it looks cozy.

    I need to wear yoga pants as I don't have the long lean legs you have.


    1. I never liked the other options at Cotton Ginny. They're pants (other than sweatpants) were dreadful. But they kept me in athletic wear for years. I think when they branched out into regular casual clothes, and stopped offering sweatshirts and pants, they were creating their own demise.

  6. Love all your choices here and that hoody that fits under a jacket is a real find. I am on the same kick at the moment but as I couldn't find anything I liked in the sweatshirt department that wasn't oversized with logos etc I am resorting to making something that will be a lot smarter (I hope) than a big baggy sweatshirt on my small frame.

    1. Thanks, Christy. If you have a small frame, a baggy sweatshirt just swallows you doesn't it? I like them baggy for lounging, and slim for wearing everywhere else. I would love to be able to sew just what I need.

  7. Hi,my Adidas sweatpants twin 🙂 (from Vienna actually)
    Love them,and the lilac sweater,too
    Adidas yoga pants are my house-,free time- and sport favourites for years. They last and look good after hundreds of washing

    1. I though of you when I was writing this post. I remember you mentioned your Adidas sweats in a comment a while ago. Hope you having a wonderful time in Vienna.

  8. Thinking about 80s leisure wear transported me back to my university days (early 80s) when I had a tracksuit from Hang Ten (is that still around?) in a bright goldenrod colour with turquoise stripes in the cuffs and neckline. A terrible colour on me, but I must have thought it looked good at the time. I think I wore it mostly for lounging around, but I remember wearing it to classes at least one day. (Cringe!) — Denise L.

    1. Ha. I remember Hang Ten. They made jeans too, didn't they? And didn't everyone wear their pyjamas to early classes at university? I couldn't do that because I still lived at home for the first few years, but I remember the girls who lived in residence showing up looking so comfy in their pyjama bottoms.

  9. Ahh memories of 80's leisure wear:) I vividly recall my mums face when she first saw me in track suit bottoms and a sweatshirt at home …it was quite a tasteful one, in grey marl cotton as I recall. She was horrified, commenting something along the lines of "letting myself go" 🙂
    I really like your choices Sue, especially the grey hoodie. My experiences are the same as Wendy's unfortunately. I thought I'd found one online a few evenings ago, a lovely fine cashmere but it was low in stock and by the time I was at checkout stage it had disappeared from my basket!! 🙂 I hate it when that happens!
    Yours works so well under a jacket, encourages me to keep looking for one.

    1. The fact that the grey hoodie fits so well under my jackets was a happy accident. That makes it so much more versatile. I must learn to expand my on-line shopping. But I'm hesitant to try stores which don't have a shipping point in Canada, because the shipping charges and duties always drive up the price. And most American companies charge extra for shipping to Canada, as I learned when I bought a Vince sweater on-line.

  10. Hi Sue
    The older I get the more comfortable I want to be, especially around the house and in the garden. (Actually everywhere!). I remember Cotton Ginny…loved that store. I hate to admit it but I still have one piece left over from that time…a black cotton tank with a build in bra. Fabulous under bulky clothing or (only) in my backyard. I wash and wash!! I need to "up" my appearance in leisure wear for sure!!
    Enjoy this rainy Sunday!

  11. I just spent scadoodles of money on an Alexander McQueen sweatshirt, so, I'm with you! Those Adidas sweatpants, track pants we might call them here, are perfect on you.

    1. Thanks, Lisa. I should probably call them track pants too.
      P.S. I love your Alexander McQueen shirt… if it's the same one you showed in a blog post, that is.

  12. Those Adidas track pants bring back memories for me, good ones. Back when the song, "Let's Get Physical," by Olivia Newton John was scandalous. Did you used to say ADIDAS – All Day I Dream About Sex. Hahaha! Ah youth. Go back? Nope. I remember those stores too, so many pastels colours. I didn't shop there though, I stuck with my Adidas and T's and Adidas jacket.

    1. My Hubby who used to teach phys ed before he retired, had a few Adidas track outfits from the seventies when I met him, pants and jackets, that he wore to work back in the day. Too bad they ended up at Goodwill!

  13. You look so great in those outfits. I have to say that my short stature and relatively sturdy frame make Athleisure wear a risky proportion. . . .But I definitely had a wardrobe full of Cotton Ginny back in the day. Ah, nostalgia.

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